For L-1 Visa holders, like any other visa holder, requests for admission to the United States are made at the border upon arrival at a U.S. port of entry. Obtaining a visa to enter the United States does not guarantee that a foreign national will be allowed entry and thus obtain a valid immigrant or non-immigrant status. The immigration officer has the authority to deny admission to a foreign national even if a visa has been issued. However, such denial rarely occurs in the case of L-1 visa holders. For more information on the difference between a visa and status, please click here.
The alien seeking admission must have a valid passport with an L visa stamp. The alien should also have the approval notice of the L-1 petition, a copy of the petition, and supporting letter with them at the entry port.
If the immigration officer decides to admit the visa holder, the officer will place a stamp in the passport noting the admission and the period of authorized stay. The immigration officer will also annotate Form I-94, or an Arrival and Departure Record. This form is issued to every foreign national entering the United States and contains information about the alien’s legal authorized stay in the country and type of the authorized stay. For more information on the I-94 form, please see the U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s web page. After an I-94 has been issued, the L visa holder obtains L Status in the United States for the authorized period.
In order to maintain valid L status during their stay in the United States, the alien may not engage in unlawful employment. This means that alien must work for the employer that petitioned for their L status and in the capacity specified in the petition letter and cannot work for another employer. For L-1A this means in a managerial or executive capacity and for L-1B this means in a specialized knowledge capacity. An alien in L status may attend an academic institution without explicit approval from the USCIS if such enrollment is limited and incidental to the authorized employment.
If an alien in L status would like to stay in the United States longer than what their authorized stay allows at that time, they need to file an extension request with the USCISbefore their authorized stay expires. Failure to do so will jeopardize their stay and future re-entry into the United States.
(Updated 10/9/2012 by AG)
For more information on L visa, please refer to the following links: